Madrid, 25 (European Press)
A jet from a newly formed star shines in the bright depths of the NGC 1977 reflection nebula in this Hubble Telescope image.
The jet (orange object in the lower part of the image) is emitted by the young star Baringo 2042, embedded in a disk of potentially planetary debris.
The star is driving a pulsating jet of plasma two light-years across from space, tilting north in this image. The gas in the jet was ionized until it was glowed by the radiation of a nearby star, 42 Orionis.
According to NASA, this makes it particularly useful to researchers because its flux remains visible under ionizing radiation from nearby stars. The output of such jets is usually only visible when they hit surrounding material, creating shiny shock waves that fade as they cool.
In this image, the red and orange colors indicate the glowing gas flow from the related collisions. The bright blue waves that appear to be flowing away from the stream to the right of the image are arc collisions in front of the star 42 Orionis (not shown). Bow shocks occur in space when gas streams collide, and they get their name from the crescent-shaped waves that a ship creates as it moves through the water.
The plane’s bright western lobe is wrapped in a series of orange arcs that decrease in size with increasing distance from the star, forming a cone or spindle shape. These arcs can trace the outer ionized edge of a debris disk around the star with a radius of 500 times the distance between the Sun and Earth and a large hole (170 AU) in the center of the disk.
The shape of the plume can trace the surface of a material outlet outside the disk and is estimated to lose the mass of approximately one hundred million suns each year. NGC 1977 is part of the trio of reflection nebulae that make up the Running Man Nebula in the constellation Orion.